Exclusive — Lindsey Graham: Abandoning Obamacare Repeal ‘Biggest Mistake We Could Make in 2018’

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that giving up Obamacare repeal “could be the biggest mistake we could make in 2018,” which will “hurt us at the ballot box.”

Sen. Graham told Breitbart News, “If the reports are true that the Republican leadership is abandoning the promise to repeal Obamacare, it’s a huge mistake not only in the short term, but also the long run. There’s only unpardonable sin in politics, and that’s to stop trying to fulfill a promise.”

Sen. Graham, along with Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Dean Heller (R-NV) were at the forefront of revived attempts to repeal Obamacare in late 2017. Their Obamacare repeal bill, known as Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (GCHJ), would repeal Obamacare’s employer mandate, several Obamacare taxes, and block grant health care to the states so that Republican states can design more conservative alternatives to the Affordable Care Act. Fifteen Republican governors, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, endorsed the legislation. Walker called the bill “a winner all the way around.”

Graham continued, “I don’t know if we can get 50 votes for a block grant. I think we can, but I think it is important that we continue to try to repeal Obamacare with a federalist solution, rather than sitting on the sidelines when socialism is taking over. I only ask that Republicans are as determined to repeal as Democrats were to pass it.”

“There is no bipartisan pathway forward. No Democrat embraces repealing Obamacare. They want to repair it, at best. Almost all Republicans believe that Obamacare should not be repaired,” Graham added.

Graham suggested that to facilitate Obamacare repeal, Republicans should “pass a budget, with reconciliation instructions, and then pick up what we did last year and have a debate worthy of the Senate.”

The South Carolina senator told Breitbart News that the Republican leadership’s decision to move away from Obamacare repeal will delight Democrats to the dismay of the Republican base.

Graham explained, “I think if I’m a Democrat, this is the best news I’ve heard since Obamacare was passed. The problem for the public is that Obamacare is collapsing. In my state, we’re down to one provider. If Republicans believe that all we have to do is repeal the individual mandate, that’s pretty naive. So this is great news for Democrats who believe that we should have a single-payer healthcare system.”

Sen. Graham told Breitbart News, “In October, premiums are going up. Obamacare cannot be fixed. It’s going to continue to collapse, and then, we own the outcome. By repealing the individual mandate, which is a step forward in the eyes of the public, we own the issue. We have a responsibility to do something about the collapsing Obamacare system. I believe that we’re going to get blamed more than Democrats because we stopped trying to repeal Obamacare, and to suggest that we don’t own it is just simply politically naive.”

Graham continued, “It can hurt us in 2018. It can hurt by our base feeling like we betrayed them. It can hurt us from people suffering from Obamacare, like we don’t have a solution. It will energize Democrats. It can undercut everything we did on the tax cut side.”

Sen. Graham also revealed to Breitbart News that he continues to discuss Obamacare repeal with Vice President Mike Pence, the Heritage Foundation, and outside groups on renewed attempts to repeal the legislation.

“We’re having discussions with Vice President Pence, with the White House, with conservative groups, Heritage, all kind of groups to come up with a new type of block grants,” Graham said.

Sen. Graham added, “Come October, the premium increases will take away most of the benefits of the tax cut, and our base is going to be disappointed that we gave up.”

Graham argued that giving up on Obamacare repeal before the 2018 midterm elections could be disastrous for Republicans.

Graham told Breitbart News, “One of the biggest miscalculations we can make in 2018 is to abandon our efforts to replace Obamacare and it will not hurt us at the ballot box. It will hurt us at the ballot box because most Republicans are going to feel let down. The public is going to see healthcare costs go up and hold us accountable for not trying. This could be the biggest mistake we could make in 2018. If we put it up to vote and we fall short, at least we put people on the record. I can’t promise the outcome, and I can promise to fix a system that is collapsing all over the country. I think it will come back to haunt us. It will deflate our base and energize the liberal Democrat base. You will wipe away most of the gains from the tax cuts.”

Graham charged, “Obamacare was structurally flawed, and I think the block grant is the best path to save health care.”

Sen. Graham concluded, “I think this is a defining moment for the Republican Party and the Trump presidency.”

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